Tricks or treats, y’all? Well… we’ve got some treats right here. We give you the two playlists for October, 2017. Lots of spooky numbers in here to get yer skin crawling and heads boppin’. All these acts will be haunting Berlin this month and it looks like we’ll have a full schedule. See you in the graveyard!
It was one of the first proper fall nights in Berlin as we rode out west to a venue for the first time. As we dodged puddles and attempted to keep warm, the graffiti and trash of Kreuzberg was gradually replaced by the glitz and glam of Charlottenburg. Our destination, Quasimodo, sits in the basement of the Delphi Filmpalast that was built in 1927. Formerly hailed as Berlin’s “Mecca of Jazz,” it has hosted countless giants of the genre, including Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, and Art Blakey since the ’20’s. There is even a rumor floating around that Prince made an after show appearance at Quasimodo in ’87.
With all of this music history floating around in our heads, we descended the stairs and staked our ground to catch the first act, Sultans of Gedankenbrain. The Sultans have been members of some pretty heavy hitting bands in the past and the head Sultan happens to be Kristof Hahn, a current member of Swans and a former member of Angels of Light. When Hahn & co. took stage, the dusty rock & roll unfurled and had this west Berlin crowd twisting all around the floor. It sounded as though Poison Ivy from The Cramps was having break up sex with Leonard Cohen à la ‘Death of a Ladies Man’, in the best possible way. The crowd lost it when The Sultans covered The Gun Club’s Sex Beat and maintained the energy until the lip-licking end. Seriously, there was a lot of lip-licking.
After a break that was intended, I’m sure, for everyone in the audience to take cold showers, the tribal noise of Father Murphy beckoned all loyal apostles back to worship at their shrine. The music was abrasive but rhythmic, the chanted lyrics were of pain and realization, the crowd stopped what they were doing and focused on what was before them. This was an extremely brief set and there was a moment of confusion to as what was going on as Father Murphy left the stage.
The mystery was soon solved when the two members of Father Murphy returned to stage followed by the lady of the (witching) hour, Jarboe. The queen of experimentalism has had her fingers in so many pies over the years and released some inimitable albums; the crowd was charged and ready to consume this musical treat. With Father Murphy as her backing band, Jarboe caressed those in the audience in a way only she knows how. We were guided through a world informed by ambient, new age, goth, drone, and so much more. The crescendos were vast and the crevasses were narrow. The audience was hushed, for no one wanted to miss a note of this rarely witnessed séance.
The ritual couldn’t last forever, but we’re beyond pleased to have FINALLY seen Jarboe, and very grateful for her support Father Murphy and Sultans of Gedankenbrain. Let us share a moment of silence and pray that she graces Berlin with her presence again soon.
Mayhem / 29.09 / Columbia Theater
The Black Angels / 01.10 / Huxley’s
Windhand / 02.10 / Cassiopeia
Mount Kimbie starts their new album, Love What Survives, off with the big track “Four Years and One Day”. It moves from ambient to IDM to grunge to noise all in the space of three minutes and sshoween seconds. It’s a whole album in one song and is a good indicator of where Mount Kimbie is and where Love What Survives is coming from.
The duo of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos have always been hailed as a top class electronic act and have gained some traction in the greater musical arena with their recent work with Jay-Z and Chance the Rapper. But on this new effort they often feel like they have a full band with them. Even the track “We Go Home Together” featuring another high prince of soulful electronics, James Blake, has the feel of live organ drones that wouldn’t immediately be associated with either act.
The natural first single and initial crowd pleaser is the second track on the album, “Blue Train Lines” and features everyone’s favorite red-headed stepchild Archy Marshall, aka King Krule. This isn’t the first collaboration between the London heavyweights and you can feel that. Mount Kimbie sets the stage for what makes Marshall so unique, his voice. Krule is allowed to talk, croon and wail over a simple but ecstatic beat that drives like a classic kraut track.
The remainder of the album sees another collaboration with James Blake, the laidback and exotic “Marilyn” featuring Micachu and a noisy “You Look Certain (I’m Not So Sure)” with the bedroom vocals of Andrea Balency. Mount Kimbie have come back to us with a big album that will be able to get us through the fall months and beyond.
Love What Survives is out on the inimitable Warp Records and can be picked up at quality record stores worldwide. Mount Kimbie will be coming back to Berlin on the 10th of November to the mighty Astra and should not be missed.
Summer festival season has finally come to close. With that, Berlin is once again inundated with raw international talent. This month we’ll all get the chance to see Moderat, Forest Swords, Cattle Decapitation, and Sisters of Mercy, just to name a few. Check out the playlists and get a taste of who to see.
Beach Fossils revealed their album Somersault a few months ago, one that “captures flashes of life in New York grounded in personal experiences”, and one we simply can’t let go of.
The band introduced themselves via their self-titled debut in 2010, which set them apart from other lo-fi alternative options through faraway vocals and minimal fuzzy vibes. Somersault is the band’s first release since 2013’s Clash the Truth and the first release on lead singer Dustin Payseur’s new label Bayonet Records.
Standout songs include, but are not limited to, the harmonic pop gem “Saint Ivy” with Payseur’s biting political lines “wanna believe in America, but it’s somewhere I can’t find”. “Tangerine” is both intricate and relentless, featuring guest vocals from Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell. The driving bass introduction for “Down the Line” is enough hook us in and the proper single to begin with for die-hard fans of their self-titled. It’s the perfect bridge between the past and where the Brooklyn trio is right now.
We listened to this album in its entirety from start to finish, over and over again. The progression from the beginning of Beach Fossils, just seven years ago, is one to take notice of: the layered sounds are much more intentional and rich. It’s important to also notice that you can still sense the nod to their lo-fi launch, and that feels good.
(photo cred: Camille Blake)
The history of Berlin Atonal begins in November 1982. Set up at SO36 in Kreuzberg, the festival became ground-zero for altogether new forms of musical experience; Einstürzende Neubauten, Sprung aus den Wolken, Malaria, Notorische Reflexe, Alu, White Russia, Didaktische Einheit and many other like-minded musical pioneers used Berlin Atonal to launch their entirely novel ideas about the possibilities of sonic expression. Throughout the 1980s Berlin Atonal was at the vanguard of the progressive electronic and experimental music and art scenes in Berlin. The festival closed in 1990 with the fall of the Berlin wall.
In its fifth year back and housed in the beautifully brutal Kraftwerk complex, Berlin Atonal hasn’t lost an ounce of its experimental core established in the 1980s. Since its re-launch in 2013, Berlin Atonal has invited acts including Cabaret Voltaire, Death in Vegas, Outside the Dream Syndicate, Lawrence English, Ben Frost, Terry Riley, Tim Hecker, Glenn Branca, Raime and many more to explore the far reaches of what audio and visual performances can mean.
Below is a schedule of performances that Schmutz is especially looking forward to, but you can check out the full lineup here. Everything from harsh noise to sweeping classical, dancy post-punk to experimental opera. There is nothing like Berlin Atonal anywhere on Earth. Come have a look.
Wednesday, August 16th
Karlheinz Stockhausen presents OKTOPHONIE
Main Stage 20:00
OKTOPHONIE is the 8-channel spatial acousmatic piece composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen as part of his monumental opera cycle LICHT. According to the octophonic system Stockhausen conceptualised the electronic sounds (meant to represent the chaotic soundfield of modern warfare) exist in three-dimensional space, with the audience listening inside a “cube of sound”. Berlin Atonal recreates Stockhausen’s octophonic set-up on its opening night, for a presentation of OKTOPHONIE projected by long time Stockhausen collaborator and director of the Stockhausen Foundation for Music, Kathinka Pasveer.
Ena + Rashad Becker present Oktophonic (World Premiere)
Main Stage 21:20
Japanese producer Ena and Berlin based musician Rashad Becker will collaborate on a new piece especially conceived for the Stockhausen Oktophonic set-up. The two artists previously worked together on a new piece for the first time in the context of Berlin Atonal’s New Assembly Tokyo festival in February, creating an exceptionally detailed soundscape, benefitting from Ena’s remarkable sound design and Rashad Becker’s masterful control of dynamics and spacing.
Carla dal Forno
Stage Null 00:30
Carla dal Forno – of F ingers and Tarcar – brings her laconic vocal style to centre stage for her eponymous solo project. Her dub-disoriented pop sensibilities leak through the sparse, Spartan arrangements, resulting in an honest, direct and unsentimental live show.
A favorite of Schmutz, check out one of our earliest album reviews here for Carla’s album, You Know What It’s Like.
Thursday, August 17th
LCC with Pedro Maia (German Premiere)
Main Stage 21:00
Editions Mego affiliates LCC are a duo from northern Spain. Working with Serge and Buchla 200 synthesisers, they recently completed a residency at the lauded EMS Stockholm studios. This new live A/V show is made in collaboration with Portuguese filmmaker and archivist Pedro Maia, and will be shown for the first time after its debut at Sonar festival in Barcelona.
Demdike Stare with Michael England (World Premiere)
Main Stage 23:00
Demdike Stare are the Manchester duo who unpredictably extract the best from ‘90s jungle, drum n bass, industrial and ambient techno sound design. Existing in the outskirts of convention and genre allows the pair to let their intuitive grasp of rhythm and sound breathe freely in their own rarefied air. At Berlin Atonal 2017 they present their own new live A/V show on the Main Stage with visuals by Michael England, while also curated a night at OHM under the auspices of their innovative DDS label.
Damien Dubrovnik presents Great Many Arrows (World Premiere)
Main Stage 00:00
Formed in 2009, Damien Dubrovnik is a Danish electronic duo of Christian Stadsgaard and Loke Rahbek, founders of the Copenhagen based record label Posh Isolation. In their day job as label managers, Stadsgaard and Rahbek have been instrumental in presenting and promoting a new Scandinavian expression and sound. As a label Posh Isolation has outgrown its humble beginning, achieving the cult status of cultural entity that serves as an outlet for experimental music and art through now 200 releases that have reached remarkably wide international fan following. The newest release by Damien Dubrovnik, Great Many Arrows, being label release number 200. Damien Dubrovnik is the duo’s longest running project that has published work across half a dozen LPs. Damien Dubrovnik’s live shows are well known for their raw intensity and expressiveness, incorporating elements of performance art and body acoustics into their powerful physical sound where harsh industrial meets poetic ambience to leave long lasting impression.
Goner is Berlin based sound artist and music producer Martin Maischein. His current release on Hospital Productions – Yogascum – circles around combining electronic soundsources with natural instruments, chief among the cello of noise artist UnterLala.
Mick Harris presents Fret (World Premiere)
Stage Null 02:00
The combined effect of Mick Harris’ work in the realms of music is hard to overstate. As the drummer for pioneering grindcore band Napalm Death he invented the blast beat – one of the defining tropes of all subsequent black metal and death metal. After leaving Napalm Death, Harris played drums for Doom and Extreme Noise Terror, started the projects Defecation and Scorn. His ambient and electronic productions – Quoit, Monrella – deserve better recognition as high-water marks of 90s and 00s electronica. The dark lord Mick Harris plays Berlin Atonal 2017 under his own name, presenting his Fret project.
LoneLady is Julie Campbell, a songwriter-musician-producer from Manchester, based in Manchester and London. Her two critically-acclaimed albums on Warp range from urgent, austere minimalism to post-punk funk, and Julie is currently resident at Somerset House Studios, London where she has built a new studio setup incorporating analogue sequencers and synths to work on her next album.
Stage Null 04:00
Pessimist, with his recent release on Blackest Ever Black, achieved a mix of ice-cold jungle and futuristic techno that put him squarely in a league of his own. Minimalistic but weighty, shape-shifting but exquisitely monotone, Pessimist somehow achieves a fusion out of what in lesser hands would remain contradictory, Berlin Atonal 2017 let’s him unpack more clearly his references and directions with a closing set on Stage Null.
Friday, August 18th
Yair Elazar Glotman presents Blessed Initiative (World Premiere)
Main Stage 20:00
Yair Elazar Glotman is a musician and sound artist living in Berlin. His compositions are currently concerned with analog tape loops, electronics and contrabass. He trained as a classical contrabass player, and has studied electroacoustic composition. For his Blessed Initiative project, Glotman utilises an ambiguous harmonic sphere constituted by microtunings, integrated into idiosyncratic rhythmical structures and concrete, almost-recognizable organic sounds, blending them all together to create a dissonant state of simultaneous highs and lows.
Puce Mary presents A Feast Before the Drought (World Premiere)
Main Stage 21:50
Puce Mary is the solo moniker of Copenhagen based noisenik Frederikke Hoffmeier. Since 2013 she has been invigorating industrial and noise music through the exquisite power of her releases on Posh Isolation and, especially, her transfixing live shows. For Berlin Atonal 2017 she has prepared a brand new live performance entitled A Feast Before the Drought.
Roly Porter + Paul Jebanasam present ALTAR (World Premiere)
Main Stage 23:30
ALTAR is a collaboration from Roly Porter and Paul Jebanasam based on a performance of ritual system music. A new approach uniting the technical and creative abilities of two of contemporary music’s most powerful composers, this project finds its world premiere in the context of Berlin Atonal 2017.
The Lefty (European Premiere)
The Lefty unites the two main forces behind the legendary Japanese label/collective Black Smoker – Killer Bong and Jube. To help Black Smoker celebrate its 20th year in the game, The Lefty link up for their European debut, taking hip-hop past its logical limits and into another realm.
Sissel Wincent is a Stockholm based producer and part of the 12-person collective of female and non-binary artists Drömfakulteten. Her pointillistic synth works range from aggressive stab fits to beautifully defined sonic textures.
Saturday, August 19th
Main Stage 19:30
Robert Rutman left Germany for Scandinavia in 1938, before attending refugee schools in England. In 1950 he left for the United States, becoming a travelling salesman. He fell in with the beat poets, establishing galleries and shows in New York and Maine. He built his own instruments and scored works by Euripides, Shakespeare, Coleridge, Rilke, Thoreau, and others. In 1980 he gave a concert at the original Berlin Atonal show.
Fis + Renick Bell (World Premiere)
Main Stage 20:50
Renick Bell and Fis link up in search of next-level sonic happenings. Starting with an injection of Fis’ gastric, sinuous sound into the cutting-edge expressive power of Bell’s live-coded algorithms, their performance plays on apparent distinctions between their live modalities.
Shackleton + Anika with Strawalde + Pedro Maia present Behind the Glass (World Premiere)
Main Stage 21:40
Behind the Glass is the unapologetically ambitious new project coming out of the overlapping creative forces of Shackleton, Anika, Strawalde and Pedro Maia. Shackleton – of Skull Disco and Honest Jon’s semi-fame – provides a vivid backdrop of infinitely detailed sonic complexity that conjures up something between devotional music and avant trance with the use non-standard time signatures often running against each other, an unusual and occasionally atonal sound palette, repetitive melodic motifs and a blatant disregard for the conventional 3 minute song format. Over this canvas Anika – perhaps best known for her self-titled debut album -narrates a tale of love, longing, fate and compulsion which stretches out in the style of a surreal fable. Her deadpan vocals and priestlike sermons meanwhile stand in direct counterpoint to the tales of unbridled lust, fury and the themes of dominance and submission in the world of love, romance and all their related afflictions. The whole is
ably backed for the stage by keyboard maestro Takumi Motokawa and the human metronome Raphael Meinhart on mallets. The visual side sets Pedro Maia’s constructive and reconstructive filmic talents against the ink of legendary Berlin artist Strawalde.
Killer Bong (European Premiere)
Killer Bong aka K-Bomb is the Tokyo-based enfant terrible of Japanese experimental hip-hop and the head honcho of the long running left-field collective Black Smoker. Mutant jazz-infused beats spiral around distorted vocals, watching a live show of his has recently been described as like ‘gazing at an uncontrollable vehicle driving at full speed’.
Powell + Wolfgang Tillmans (World Premiere)
Main Stage 00:00
This premiere show sees Atonal regular and electronic music enfant terrible Powell on stage performing with Turner prize winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans. The two artists have been collaborating on music which will reach ears for the first time in this live A/V show.
Broken English Club
Stage Null 02:00
Oliver Ho’s early productions made clear his ability to inject a dark narrative into functional electronics. With Broken English Club, he delivers monotone vocals and shards of live instrumentation over stuttering beats and bleak synths. The blank-stared, pinpoint focused electronics and layers of noise betray no/wave and post punk influences, dragging together industrial experimentation and pitch-black techno.
Andy Maddocks is an entrepreneur and musician who founded Skam Records, an independent electronic label, in 1990. He is also a member of the almost mythical Gescom group with Darrell Fitton, Russell Haswell and perhaps some others. Maddocks recently toured Europe with Autechre, which brought him to OHM for the first time. Berlin Atonal gladly welcomes him back for a reprise.
Dark mysticism from the past swirls like winter winds around the pitch black atmosphere of Ulwhednar, the conjurers are Abdulla Rashim and Varg. They combines their musical styles into a collaborative effort producing dancefloor black magic.
Sunday, August 20th
Varg + AnnaMelina
Stage Null 18:00
AnnaMelina and Varg’s new collaboration explores the differences in their solo projects to find a common ground informed in equal parts by techno, bass drum, romantic synths and AnnaMelina’s vocals.
Stage Null ???
Matti Bye started his career 25 years ago composing and doing live improvisations to silent film and early cinema. Since the late 1980s, Bye has been employed by the Film House in Stockholm (“a hive of film-related activity”) and there he has created, in his own words, a “private world of music”. Bye will have a chance to present some of it during Varg’s curated Nordic Flora programme at Berlin Atonal 2016.
Belong play October Language
Main Stage 21:00
Belong is the New Orleans based project that blends early 1990s shoegaze, ambient electronica, and drone. Guitar based, heavily processed and distorted loops that seem to go on forever layer on top of each other creating unashamedly beautiful and powerful textures. Their 2006 album October Language was a high-water mark for this kind of often emulated and rarely mastered music and at Berlin Atonal they prepare a special set based on this material.
Pact Infernal (World Premiere)
Main Stage 22:00
Preferring to let their conceptually driven music stand in place of interviews and biographical information, Pact Infernal is the latest shadowy project to emerge from the impeccable Horo arsenal. The music arranges a broad palette of sonic resources into mutated tribalistic patterns, verging on but never quite fully settling with genres including ritual ambient and techno as well as those that haven’t been invented yet.
Pan Diajing presents Fist Piece (World Premiere)
Main Stage 23:00
Chinese performance artist and composer Pan Daijing presents at Berlin Atonal the world premiere of Fist Piece. “I am rubbing my eyes. I am putting it back. I am taking them away. I am stretching. I am holding. I am denying. I am losing.”
Check out our latest album review for Pan Daijing’s Lack here.
Emptyset is the project of James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas dedicated to examining the material properties of sound and its correspondence with architecture, performance and physical modes of production. This show marks the first time they have adapted their live presentation for Berlin Atonal and the sublime industrial grandeur of the Kraftwerk space working in collaboration with visual artist Sam Williams.
Lots of text and bios lifted from the Atonal website.
Lack, the debut full length release from Chinese born, Berlin based artist Pan Daijing is a world unto itself. Comprised of two years worth of performances, improvisations, field recordings and found sound, Lack is a fruitful challenge for those interested in the harsher, more abrasive side of ambient music.
Meeting the two ends of harsh electronics and hyper-intimate, often indiscernible gurgling vocals to create something akin to your favorite, darkest secrets about yourself, Pan Daijing sonically expands on what we’ve heard from her before. Lack is at times filled with repetitivity that builds on itself and becomes almost overwhelming to the point of panic. This repetitive beauty shines its black light brightest on the aptly named track ‘The Nerve Meter’ with the constant nagging of what might be Berlin city traffic at its most hectic or the traffic of a Chinese capital at its most sereine. This build goes on for minutes and right when your nerve meter is peaking, you can discern a flute like voice trying to reach you over the din of traffic noise. The repetitivity of ‘The Nerve Meter’ and the controlled kick under the drones of ‘Act of the Empress’ recall Pan’s more techno focused releases (probably doesn’t hurt that the album was mastered by Rashad Becker either).
In her interviews with The Quietus, Pan has likened the sonic effect of her music to BDSM. We fucking love that. Like BDSM, Lack is harsh, abrasive and not for everyone but at the same time intimate and beautiful because it’s of the flesh, a flesh that everyone on planet Earth is comprised of.
If voyeurism is in fact participation, we can’t wait for Berlin’s premiere experimental music summit, Atonal, taking place in the Kraftwerk complex from August 16th to the 20th. Pan Daijing has been billed along with Rashad Becker, Carla dal Forno, Demdike Stare, Puce Mary, Fis, Powell and a slew of other artists and performers. An show not to be missed.
We’ve got some big acts coming through this month. From the stacked lineup of Atonal to the Mykki Blanco, Boris and Wrekmeister Harmonies shows. These playlists only reflect a small number of the acts rolling through Berlin this month be we hope to see you in the pit!
Schmutz likes Boris. Schmutz is glad to witness Boris’ return to the deep drones and noise that made us fall in love with them in the first place. With their new album Dear, the Japanese lords of noise get back down to business and we are all ears.
From the thick drones of opener ‘D.O.W.N. (Domination of Waiting Noise)’ to the eerie mid-album séance that is ‘Kagero’ right through to the final (and title) track of the album that recalls the power of Electric Wizard, Sleep and Earth all at once, we’re down with Dear. Spend some time with aptly named track and Schmutz favorite ‘The Power’ that delivers towers of doomed sludge that could topple over and crush you at any moment but you can’t manage to tear yourself away from the building of such a monument.
When we are treated to the treats that are the vocal arrangements on Dear, we get a bit of everything. On ‘DEADSONG’ we are dragged through a mire by slow screeching right before soaring 80’s metal vocals swoop us from what was looking to be our demise. On the very next track, ‘Absolutego,’ just over the huge sabbathian riffs, we pick out a voice that isn’t unlike that of Ozzy himself. Speckled throughout the album we also come across chanting, whispers and howling; all placed in a manner that flows in a way that can only be created by a band that has been around for 25 years.
Dear is out on a little record label (and Schmutz fav.) called Sargent House. Boris will be crushing Berlin on the 8th of August this year, 2017, at that classic corner spot, Lido. They will be joined by stoner/doom buddies Acid King. See you there?
This weekend, Speicher will be coming to a water reservoir near you.
Speicher is a two-evening show with six artists of eclectic backgrounds, put together by the appropriately named Bohemian Drips. It will be set in the underground foundation of two water towers that are a staple of Prenzlauerberg’s scenery. Among Berlin’s oldest, they were completed in 1877 and in use until 1952. After being abandoned for decades, the towers were recognized for what they could offer in unique acoustics, boasting an 18-second reverberation time in the larger reservoir and 4-6 seconds in the smaller reservoir. In the weeks leading up to the show, the artists have been given access to the ancient edifices to rehearse and customize their sets to the particular acoustics. Considering what we know of the mixed bag of musicians, we’re expecting performances to run the gamut of catchy, hypnotic, and psychedelic. These are the types of shows that we live for.
Wasserspeicher at Prenzlauer Berg
Access via Belforter Straße, 10405 Berlin
Saturday & Sunday
Start: 18:30 (sharp)
Given the unconventional setting, this has a very limited capacity. As of this post, you can still get pre-sale tickets at the following locations:
• Staalplaat Recordshop & Mailorder / Kienitzerstr. 108 (Mo-Fr 12-8 pm)
• Zabriskie – Buchladen für Kultur & Natur / Manteuffelstr. 73, 10999 Berlin (Di-Sa 12-7 pm)
• Heiners Bar / Weserstr. 58, 12045 Berlin (Mi-Sun 8 pm-openend)
• Cashmere Radio / Lichtenberg / via Cashmere Community
Have a listen to see what to expect:
Saturday, June 15
Big Beats Big Times
Richard Stott & Axel Dörner
Sunday, June 16
I T O E
Happy Gin Rickey Month! This is the Berlin playlist of the summer, folks. We’ve put this doozy together based on the bands and artists coming through Berlin this July. We’re excited to check out these legends live and hope you are too, tiny dancers.
I watched a man in the audience stare out the window for twenty minutes. Soon after, I realized how perfect Soviet Soviet is for introspection. The three-piece created the perfect atmosphere for thinking about it all. I imagined the thick layers of sound filling in every corner of the barely-lit room while casual goths slowly nodded their head. The night moved slowly, even when the rhythm was fast-paced and insisting.
Andrea Giometti (bass and vocals) created his own chaos in the corner of the stage, throwing his bass around as the speed and sound increased. Alessandro Costantini (guitar) and Alessandro Ferri (drums) were often closing their eyes, joining everyone else in their own head.
One thing that sets Soviet Soviet apart from other modern post-punk bands are the vocals. Giometti’s pitch somehow fit in just right with the darker tones of the genre and it was executed perfectly in a live setting.
Random Chatter called Endless, “a musical journey that is completely built on hope”, and I walked away from the venue feeling just that, despite the current state of the world.
Colette is a freelance writer based in Berlin. She likes Turkish psych rock, wandering, data sculptures, and white sauce. For more Colette, visit here.
The appeal for Homeshake seems obvious, especially on a blazing spring evening in Berlin. Lido was packed with swaying floral button ups, sun-dazed expressions and an eagerness to hear the Montreal-based headliner. Aldous RH opened and said hello to the crowd by mentioning how their 9 hour drive was worth it. Berlin seemed to agree when we submitted to the frontman’s request for everyone to take a seat together. The pairing was ideal: the band mixes bedroom pop with 90’s R&B in a way that somehow still sounds fresh.
Peter Sagar, the man behind Homeshake, wore sunglasses and maintained a nonchalant stage presence for the entire set. The four musicians worked their way through crowd pleasers, building up hype within an already excited room. Three songs before it would all end Sagar mentioned,
“We’re going away for a year.”
Here’s to hoping the absence will be to work on a fourth album. We’re all ready for more R&B-soaked stoner synth days.
Homeshake came through Berlin in large part due to Puschen. Be sure to check their other shows coming up this summer…
NOTS @ Urban Spree on 12.06
Froth @ Badehaus on 12.06
WHY? @ Festsaal Kreuzberg on 20.06
Peaking Lights @ Kantine am Berghain on 12.07
of Montreal @ Festsaal Kreuzberg on 20.07
The Men @ Kantine am Berghain on 03.08
Chastity Belt @ Kantine am Berghain on 17.09
Colette is a freelance writer based in Berlin. She likes Turkish psych rock, wandering, data sculptures, and white sauce. For more Colette, visit here.
Humanz, the first studio album we’re seeing from virtual band Gorillaz in seven years is chalk full of guest spots. The bigger names include Grace Jones, Zebra Katz, Popcaan, Vince Staples, Pusha T and Danny Brown. With a roster like this, one would expect another huge album like Demon Days. Alas, Humanz falls a touch flat compared to other records in the Gorillaz universe. An especially disappointing moment comes with the entrance of Grace Jones (who is normally an absolute goddess) to album. She laughs maniacally over choppy guitars saying “I am the ghost”. What are you the ghost of Frau Jones? Disco past?
There are, of course, beautiful little pools of creative genius in Humanz that we have to cherish if our faith in Gorillaz is to remain in tact. Popcaan brings that same Jamaican feel to ‘Saturnz Barz’ that we fell in love with on Jamie xx’s 2015 summer banger ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’. Another gem can be found in the melancholy croons and the atmospheric synths of ‘Busted and Blue’.
At the end of the day Humanz is still a Gorillaz record. They’ve always given us gloomy yet danceable albums to throw on during good times, hard times and end times. And we’ll always love them for that.
The virtual outlaws 2-D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel Hobbs will be rocking through Berlin on November 11th at Max-Schmeling-Halle. No matter what era Gorillaz fan you are, you know it’s going to be a feel good time.
Here we go again, it’s XJazz time!!
Kicking off next week, from May 3rd to the 7th, XJazz is a unique festival when put in the context of the Berlin live music landscape. One of the main goals of XJazz is to blur and break the boundaries of jazz, experimental electronic, neo-classical and other genres to give Berlin something not always witnessed. XJazz is also a multi-venue, multi-day show, taking place in some of the most iconic venues in the city including Funkhaus Berlin, Emmauskirche, Bi Nuu, Lido, Prince Charles, Privatclub, Monarch and Watergate. No other Berlin music festival offers such an eclectic roster of artists, performing in such unique spaces. The Schmutz team is especially keen to see the performances at the historical Funkhaus and Emmauskirche.
Every year XJazz Festival has an international partner that forms the backbone of the booking and performances taking place. This year XJazz has announced Poland as their partner. The two countries have always had a passionate cultural exchange, inside the musical arena and out. For this year’s festival, XJazz has organized an exchange of artists to come to Berlin and collaborate with local musicians. This special line-up includes The Berlin x Warsaw Ensemble collaboration, Stargaze featuring Käptn Peng & Malikah and Wallis Bird performing together with Berlin musicians. What Schmutz has got for you jazz cats is a little guide to XJazz 2017 with our favorite shows and recommended listening for good measure with a playlist. Dig it, ya jive turkeys!
The festival starts out with a bang in what is probably the most unique show space of the festival, Emmauskirche. The collaboration of Cyminology & Korhan Erel will be the act to christen the church on behalf of the festival. This collab is comprised of the Berlin quartette Cyminology and the sound architect Korhan Erel, and will be serving up minimalistic improvisations and compositions starting at 18:00. Following Cyminology & Korhan Erel we get the pleasure of the Berlin based composer Martyn Heyne in Emmauskirche. With his one guitar, drum machine, pedals and loops, Heyne builds variations on a theme until you forget where you started but can’t wait to arrive where you’re going. The third act of the evening is Dillon. With her engaging vocals and experimental take on pop music, she’ll fill Emmauskirche to the rafters with emotion. To round out this whopper of an opening night we’ve got the drones and jazz saxophone of Rain Sultanov & Isfar Sarabski. This performance is especially not to be missed if you’re interested in the cultural development of Azerbaijan. Sultanov has been an integral part of the jazz scene in Azerbaijan and that history can be felt when listening to his compositions. Rolf Kühn will also be playing a show at 19:45 at Watergate on the 4th. The legendary German clarinetist will be opening Watergate for the night but have no fear, if you miss him tonight he’ll be playing with his brother at Funkhaus on Sunday the 7th.
With her third studio album Margaret Chardiet, a.k.a. Pharmakon, holds nothing back physically or electronically. Her new album Contact expresses a bizarre truth held between the pure physicality of Chardiet’s voice (screams, cries, yells, whispers) that achieves relatable abrasiveness and the harsh angles and atmospheres she breathes into her electronic soundscapes. The aptly named Contact is the meeting ground of two differently created worlds that are fighting to get to the same point.
Chardiet has always featured herself on the covers of her albums with literal visual translations of the album titles and philosophies. Contact is no different. Before you put the record on, you have an idea of what you’ll be getting yourself into. A sea of hands that might have a combination of sweat, saliva and tears on them grope Chardiet’s face as she takes a finger into her mouth out of self defense or curiosity.
As with her last two albums, Abandon and Beastial Burden, Chardiet has released the latest Pharmakon LP on a Schmutz favorite, New York’s Sacred Bones Records. Pharmakon will be bringing her sounds to Berlin on the 22nd of April, 2017 to the intimate venue Ausland.
Check out the extremely physical music video for the album’s fifth track, Somatic, below:
19 years after their last full length effort, The Jesus and Mary Chain have come back at us with Damage and Joy. Although not the perfect 10s that are Stoned and Dethroned and Psychocandy, Damage and Joy still has the swagger that made us fall in l-u-v with early The Jesus and Mary Chain. The new album, out on ADA and Warner Music Group, delivers the amphetamine highs of Psychocandy and the hazed out lows of Stoned and Dethroned. The new album even brings similar vocal pairings of earlier albums to the table on the songs “Song for a Secret” and “The Two of Us” with former Belle & Sebastian member Isobel Campbell.
Although not at their peak, The Jesus and Mary Chain are certainly still worth checking out live, we can vouch. Seeing them a few years ago in Seattle is still one of the better shows of the last years. They’ll be supporting Damage and Joy with a lengthy tour and will be stopping at Huxley’s Neue Welt in Berlin on April 24th.
Sometimes the metals become so mighty, the death so real, that the skin sprouts fur and the claws come out. When you hit werewolf-grade seven, your voice is raw, shrieking along as your fist pounds the air; when you hit eight, you’ve made it to dawn; once you hit nine, you’ve probably thrown up the defenseless deer you consumed and kept going. Don’t ask about ten. Aptly-named Wolf City brings the best metal to Berlin for those special nights when the werewolf needs to come out, and lordy was Saturday a proper banger.
Local stalwarts Carnal Tomb opened the evening with the appropriately grim motions, and by the time they left the stage Urban Spree was packed, tipsy, and ready for Killtown Booking’s fairly unbelievable package to hit the stage. Up next was the UK’s Cruciamentum, who released one of the most solid and satisfying death metal albums of recent years with Charnel Passages (2015).
With riffs for miles, ranging from chugging brutality to soaring fireballs, set to life by blistering solos and top-notch drumming, they annihilated the place and set the crowd well on its way into lycanthropic fervor. Blood Incantation followed with much anticipation; their debut LP Starspawn blew the scene away completely in 2016, with its progressive and cosmic—yet entirely catchy and crushingly heavy—concoction.
Although inspired chiefly (to these ears) by late Death, early Suffocation, and Steve Tucker-era Morbid Angel, Blood Incantation achieves its own, distinctive sound and delivers the whole package live, and leaving this werewolf howling all the way to Monday.
Huge thanks to Wolf City for supplying tickets for our raffle when the show was sold out. Legends.
Gottlieb Brenner is a Berlin-based Schmutz contributor. He enjoys kabusecha, gin, and believes “Superunknown” was the best album of the ’90s.
Everyone on this playlist is playing in Berlin this month. Listen. Go to their shows. Be merry.
The members of Grails have been around the block, both with Grails and with other projects (Om, Lilacs & Champagne, Holy Sons), and bring that solid foundation to the table when recording their new album Chalice Hymnal. On this, their sshowh proper LP, you feel that the Portland, OR group has been around the world, seeing things through smoke blurred lenses while listening to everything from Bollywood and porn soundtracks from the 60s and 70s to hip hop and classical scores. A record that can suite any current mood or can be used to transport you where you want to go.
On his first album for 4AD, Bing & Ruth mastermind, David Moore moves forward with his minimal compositions on No Home of the Mind. On first listen it would not be hard to comfortably place No Home of the Mind in the genres of classical or piano music and leave it there. But after several sittings with the album you start to pick out drones that you hadn’t noticed before, or the processed tapes that might seem more akin to Grouper than Philip Glass.
When Bing & Ruth played Acud Macht Neu last year the setting was perfect: intimate venue, small crowd, pillows on the floor, the tone was set. As the musicians on the stage drifted forward with their set, all eyes were on Moore, leaving the crowd with the notion that he was incomplete control of the compositions without having to give anything away, this is how No Home of the Mind feels.
Bing & Ruth will be playing the Grüner Salon on May 21st.
Earlier this year, German-born British composer Max Richter released his score for the narrative dance piece entitled Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works on Deutsche Grammophon. The pieces were initially scored to accompany the choreography of Wayne McGregor that are based on three of Virginia Woolf’s novels (Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves), but after seeing him perform and speak about these pieces earlier this year in Berlin, it was made clear that Richter penned these not only with the choreography in mind but also telling the stories Virginia Woolf did through his music using the lenses of time and memory.
Richter has released a new video to accompany the piece ‘Modular Astronomy’ that was scored for Woolf’s Orlando. The video was directed by Mark Nunneley at the Babelsberg Studios outside of Berlin and features time-lapse cloud formations and vast cloudscapes in black and white.
We were among the lucky attendees at Säälchen when Richter performed last month. If you weren’t so fortunate, check out the video below and pray to the ambient gods that he plays Berlin again soon.
We’re approaching a year since this was released, but Schmutz didn’t exist then and this is an album we really wanted to talk about. A long hiatus coupled with a lineup change usually proves fatal to a band, but Cobalt proves to be an exception on its latest record, Slow Forever, which is at least a return to form, if not their strongest release of all. The departure of the band’s founder and former vocalist Phil McSorley following a fairly epic social-media meltdown did not bode well, until news arrived of his replacement by the appropriately monstrous Charlie Fell (ex-Lord Mantis). Multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder handles the rest with panache, all the way through nearly 84 minutes of material spread across twelve tracks, with zero filler. The overall approach and sound harkens back less to 2009’s Gin than 2007’s Eater of Birds, a hearty heavy metal stew that did not shrink from milking a good riff for a few extra bars or paring back the blast beats to lend a more dynamic structure than your usual black metal record. In other words, Slow Forever is a headbanger whose stylistic debts range all across the world of extreme metal, but has its own distinctive grooves—and it does groove, recalling Tool more than Marduk—and savage ambitions. Despite Cobalt’s earlier successes, 2016 is a much kinder year for such an album than 2007 or 2008 would have been, and so it is no accident that many consider Slow Forever amongst 2016’s best—if not the best—metal release. They are right. Hail Cobalt redivivus!
Gottlieb Brenner is a Berlin-based Schmutz contributor. He enjoys kabusecha, gin, and believes “Superunknown” was the best album of the ’90s.
Who’s asking? Who are any of us, really? I have yet to see substantiated evidence that you aren’t all figments of my reality simulation. Or we could all be some sort of Westworld-esque, sexy robots, teetering on the brink of self-awareness, insanity, and an inevitable murder spree. All that aside, music is our life (Lives? Musics are our lives..?). Music is really important to us. We have other things going on, but at the core of it all, music is what keeps it all together. You know when the looming awareness of your existential insignificance starts to creep in? Music helps us tune all that nonsense out.
Two native daughters of Cascadia.
Live music of all kinds, as long as it’s good. If it’s happening in this city, we want you to know about it. We indiscriminately love black metal, rnb, pop, powerviolence, etc.
The trigger point for this site was the regular occurrence of walking by a flyer on the street for an amazing band, only to see that the date for the show had past. If we had a euro for every time this happened to us, we could finally afford to start paying our Deutschland Radio bills. Perhaps more importantly, we consider this a sort of civic duty for the city we love.
We’re right behind you. Shhhhhh.
The brilliant pop lyricist from Sweden, Jens Lekman, is back with his first album in five years, Life Will See You Now. As always, Lekman is unreasonably witty while never fully letting you wash the bitter taste of melancholy out of your mouth. With the first (rather tropical feeling) single from the album, “What’s That Perfume You Wear?”, Lekman recalls the scent of a former lover, whom he guesses he still loves.
Although this is Lekman’s first studio album since 2012 (out on Secretly Canadian), he has been busy. In 2015 Lekman wrote and produced one song per week for the entire year, the series is entitled “Postcards“.
Jens will be playing at Silent Green on April 18th, 2017.
With his second self-titled album, Ty Segall doesn’t stray from his glam-garage formula, something we can all be pleased about. Ty has always had an affinity for bringing two of the best 70s sub-genres to the fore of his music, but with his first release of 2017 he proves that his love for Marc Bolan and Sabbath might be getting closer to perfection.
Fun facts: this album was released on my 28th birthday and Ty Segall will be playing Berlin on my mother’s 58th birthday. Alles gute mutti, Ty and I love you.
On her solo album debut, You Know What It’s Like, Berlin resident Carla dal Forno occupies a curious space between minimal pop and experimental electronics. Each song builds on itself while building on the song before it, lending an eerie yet familiar haze to an album that seems to have been recorded to listen to while walking alone on a crisp Berlin night in autumn. As if challenging its listeners, one of the album’s first singles is cuttingly titled ‘What You Gonna Do Now?’, beckoning its audience to occupy a (head)space dal Forno has created for us.
You Know What It’s Like is out on one of Schmutz’s most beloved labels, Blackest Ever Black, formerly holding court in both Berlin and London, but recently moving all operations to London.
In the greater scheme of things, the formula for metal can be relatively restrictive. This is evident in the ambiguous subgenre tags given to any band that challenges the standard confines. Not to say that “Atmospheric avant-garde black metal” isn’t an apt description of Deathspell Omega, but it probably comes across as gibberish to normal folk.
The Synarchy of Molten Bones should make a lot of veteran DO listeners happy. While in some ways it picks up where Paracletus left off, you can also detect a nod to the visceral fury that came through on 2007’s FAS. Their composition style might be characterized by how chaotic it sounds at first listen; an overwhelming assault of time changes in an sea of tritones. But those with time and a tolerance for dissonance are rewarded with the catchiest of microgrooves and melodies, which are made even more infectious with the power of contrast. For fans of Gorguts, Nietzche, and getting lost in a forest on mushrooms.